The GraceKennedy Jamaican Birthright Programme is an internship opportunity open to university students living in North America or the United Kingdom who are second or third generation Jamaicans (of Jamaican parentage or grand parentage). Successful applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 25 years; pursuing either an undergraduate or post-graduate degree; and have a Grade ‘B’ average or higher. Additionally, they must have not lived in Jamaica for more than six months, and are seeking an opportunity to learn more about their heritage.
The Programme aims to expose the students to a diversified Jamaican experience through cultural activities and professional tutelage at a GraceKennedy operation in Jamaica.
GraceKennedy recently hosted its second batch of interns following the return of the Programme in 2015.
“The 2016 Programme was very successful and the interns had a memorable and rewarding experience,” said Executive Director of the GraceKennedy Foundation, Caroline Mahfood, who has oversight for the programme. She continued, “With the help of our partners Jakes Hotel, FLOW Jamaica and the Jamaica Tourist Board, the interns received the opportunity to experience the business undertakings as well as Jamaica’s dynamic cultural traditions, from our food to music, sports and more. They really got the chance to make a personal connection with Jamaica.”
The 2016 Jamaican Birthright Interns were Kimberly Ann Stephenson, a graduate student at New York University; Casey Daley, a junior at Florida State University; Karis Edwards, a recent graduate of Brunel University and Natasha Allen, a recent graduate of the University of Toronto. They received an all-expenses paid five-week trip to Jamaica to participate in the programme. They all expressed their appreciation for having had the opportunity. According to Natasha, “The GK Birthright Programme was a wonderful experience overall. I am so thankful that GraceKennedy saw fit to invest in us, and allowed us to go on all of these excursions. I really hope they continue the programme and allow more persons in the Diaspora to connect with their heritage.”
The GraceKennedy Foundation is ensuring that more students will have that chance. Four persons – two from the United States of America, one from the United Kingdom and one from Canada - will be chosen to participate in the 2017 Jamaican Birthright Programme to run from July 1 to August 8.